Literate indie songwriting of a fine vintage...

Depending on how old you are, you might remember the heyday of British indie rock as being 1986, 1996 or 2006. If you’re of the latter variety – the generation that grew up on Skins and the Carling Academy and Franz Ferdinand and Kasabian and The Libertines and Arctic Monkeys and The Kooks – there’s a damn good chance you might have heard of Hot Club de Paris, who dropped their debut album in 2006, right in the midst of the British indie renaissance. You might have even seen them live, on tour with We Are Scientists or Tapes’N’Tapes.

After a few years in the wilderness, their leader, Paul Rafferty, has returned with this new project, the excellently-named Doomshakalaka – and it’s like being transported in a time machine to those glorious days of endless summer all over again, if only for a short time. The songs are that authentically felt, and that sincerely played, that you’d be forgiven for thinking that this was a lost album from those heady days.

Tracks like ‘One Last Saturday Night’ will immediately appeal to that generation, and the sense that we’d give anything to experience that feverish romantic intensity one last time. Musically, it has a sense of rising tension drawn from Television and The Velvet Underground, but also some fuzzy, scuzzy guitars that immediately place in back in the 2006 school.

‘The Lost Homework Of Elizabeth Perez’ adds to the nostalgic feel Rafferty conjures throughout the record, and the sense of urgency at recapturing those feelings, now he knows that the memories are fading. ‘James Asleep’ is classic British indie, with a glassy guitar chug and a propulsive bass line. The downbeat, melancholy jangle of ‘Black Balloons’ is another classic slice of British gloom - part Smiths, part Pulp.

A cruel, miserable irony is that Sports Team are releasing their debut album on the same day Doomshakalaka release theirs. It’s the cruelty of aging that’s thrown into immediate focus: Sports Team are exactly the kind of band this writer (but probably not this writer) might have adored in 2006, with all their relentless energy, angular guitar attack and dickhead machismo.

Sports Team’s very existence is predicated on the demise of the previous generation of indie tykes, but here, on this fantastic debut, Paul Rafferty proves there’s still life in the old dogs yet.


Words: Ross Horton

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